The Twilight Zone, Season Three: “Two”
Written and directed by Montgomery Pittman
Director of photography - George T. Clements
Music - Nathan Van Cleave
So much has been written about The Twilight Zone that I have no business adding my two cents, but since I was recently inspired by this post from Maddy Loves Her Classic Films, I thought I’d pick up on rewatching the entire series from where I left off after finishing Season Two nearly three years ago.
I’ve seen all of the episodes from the original series at least once, most of them three or more times. What I thought I’d do here is to try to capture some of my feelings from what it was like to watch those episodes for the first time and what it’s like today. Since that journey is likely to be a different experience for each viewer, hopefully I won’t repeat too many things others have already covered.
“Two” gives us the backdrop of a city devastated from the aftermath of a great war. The only survivors: a man (Charles Bronson) who speaks English and a woman (Elizabeth Montgomery), who speaks only one word, in Russian. Clearly they are on opposing sides of the conflict that brought about this devastation, but is the conflict over?
I am such a nerd that I have written in my well-loved copy of Marc Scott Zicree’s The Twilight Zone Companion that I first watched this episode on August 1, 1984 (probably on the Chicago station WGN). This was the summer before my final year in college and at the time, Charles Bronson was still a significant box office draw. Elizabeth Montgomery, whom we’d all grown up with from watching Bewitched (1964-1972), was still acting, but seeking edgier roles (mostly in TV movies), about as far away from the adorable Samantha Stephens as she could get.
Watching her as this Russian fighter was a real revelation. Outside of Bewitched, I had seen Montgomery in the 1975 TV movie The Legend of Lizzie Borden, so I knew she was capable of some mayhem, but this Twilight Zone role really surprised me. Here, Montgomery looked feral, fierce, someone you wouldn’t walk away from unscathed if you crossed her path. Her fight with Bronson looks like the real thing (although I’m sure stunt doubles were used). She didn’t need twitch-your-nose magic to go toe-to-toe with Bronson. When Bronson finally gets free and knocks her out, Montgomery actually looks like a casualty of war.
Again, at the time, Bronson was still riding high from movies like Death Wish (1974), The Mechanic (1972), and more recently several Cannon Films features such as 10 to Midnight (1983) and The Evil That Men Do (1984). I didn’t think much of those films and I didn’t think much of Bronson, either. Yet there was something in his performance in “Two” that impressed me. He didn’t have many lines, but something about them worked in this episode. The Bronson soldier in “Two” has had enough of war and fighting. He’s almost a pacifist, wanting to enjoy what’s left of his life, which might not be very much at all.
As I’ve gone back and watched Bronson (or Charles Buchinsky, as he was billed at the start of his career), I was pleased to discover he did more than adequate work in early films like Crime Wave (1954), Big House, U.S.A. (1955), The Magnificent Seven (1960), and in three Alfred Hitchcock Presents episodes. Bronson was quite good in “And So Died Riabouchinska” and “There Was an Old Woman,” both from the show’s first season. (I have yet to see “The Woman Who Wanted to Live” from the seventh season.) Take a look at some of the actors who appeared on AHP and consider the fact that Bronson appeared three times on the show.
Maybe the man in “Two” grabs the dress in the store window and throws it to the woman not from a sense of sexual desire, but rather an urgency for normalcy, a return to civilization and and end to a hostile existence. Maybe things are wrapped up a little too neatly, but then again, maybe not. Faced with the alternative, is there really any other option?
“Two” worked for me in 1984 and it still works in 2019. I hope that both Bronson and Montgomery were able to look back on that episode with pride. It’s a good one.
Photos: IMDb, Syfy, The Twilight Zone Vortex, My Life in the Shadow of the Twilight Zone